Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hey! That's My Sheet!

The Epiphany 1877 Quarter Sessions include the case of a wronged housewife who demonstrated a certain lack of human sympathy for another woman. On Thursday 26th October 1876 Ellen Charles of Stotfold left five sheets and a tablecloth drying on the line. During the day one calico sheet and one linen sheet went missing. On Friday 27th she found the calico sheet on the bed of a certain George Seymour. In the course of cross-examination it became apparent that on that Friday Seymour's wife was confined in childbirth. Ellen Charles went to the house with PC Thomas Hebbes and was given permission by the woman nursing Mrs Seymour to go upstairs to the bedroom. Apparently ignoring the fact that the occupant was either in labour or had just given birth, Ellen Charles identified the sheet as her own, removed it from the bed and gave it to the policeman, who at least had the tact to wait on the landing outside the room. George Seymour was arrested that evening. When the missing linen sheet was found the next day at the house of a Thomas Morris the charge against Seymour of stealing this item was dropped, but the prosecution for stealing the calico sheet went ahead. Fortunately for his family Seymour was acquitted. Maybe the jury possessed a little more sympathy than Mrs Charles!

The baby born to Mrs Seymour appears to have been a little girl, Emily, whose birth was registered at Biggleswade during the December quarter of 1876. It seems she survived for only a few months as her death was registered in the June1877 quarter.

References: QSR1877/1/5/5; QSR1877/1/4/4/c

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